Weed of dreams

Al Kamen
Columnist June 19, 2013

It was rematch time for the White House softball team, which, as you might recall, got smoked last summer by a squad fielded by a coalition of pro-marijuana groups.

The two teams squared off again Wednesday night at the field on the Ellipse, just off the White House’s front lawn, and again the One Hitters — you guessed it, that’s the pot lobby’s team — beat STOTUS, which is shorthand for “softball team of the U.S.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

This time, however, the margin was a respectable 5-2 — a vast improvement over last year’s 25-3 drubbing.

And while the feds may have been jonesing for revenge, the pot lobby had some extra skin in the game this year: One of the team’s sponsors is Mountain Medicine, a Denver dispensary and “medical edibles” company (their peanut butter cups look dee-licious) with a bit of a score to settle with the administration. They’re lobbying the Internal Revenue Service for better tax treatment, and owner Jamie Lewis says recent victories have made her optimistic about their prospects on and off the diamond. “We’re proud and happy to support the One Hitters so that we can win on the softball field too,” Lewis boasted in an e-mail.

And the One Hitters had a secret weapon. Players were fueled by swigs of a hemp-infused energy drink called Chillo, made by another team sponsor, MediSwipe.

Clearly the team was ready for those high fly balls.

Pushing the envelope

The fight over closing post offices is hitting close to home for lawmakers and staffers in Congress — the U.S. Postal Service is finally shutting down three Capitol Hill facilities.

Lawmakers and other Hill denizens may now have to (gasp!) walk to the next building to buy their stamps, now that the USPS on Wednesday issued “Final Determination to Close notices” (which means what you’d assume it does) at the post offices in the Rayburn and Cannon buildings as well as the Capitol.

The closures, set for August, are “due to steadily declining revenue and mail volume,” the USPS said in a statement, and it seemed to preempt critics by noting that only nine customers attended the first information session about the closures way back in 2011.

The Postal Service estimates the closures will save a little more than $2 million over 10 years. Which pleased some lawmakers.

“Congress should lead by example and not treat itself to a higher level of service than it needs or is available to the average American,” House Administration Committee Chairman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a joint statement. “The cost savings from these consolidations are a small but symbolically important step in restoring USPS to long-term financial solvency.”

More walking (the post offices in the Ford and Longworth buildings will remain open), of course, is healthier. Possible silver lining?

Holder-onner?

Attorney General Eric Holder, constantly skewered by conservatives, came under fire recently from Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who said Holder wasn’t up to the job.

Some might think heavy incoming from another flank could cause Holder to leave.

Maybe. But that’s not always the case in Washington when officials are criticized in the news media. They can be loath to leave while under attack.

For example, back in late 1964, President Lyndon Johnson wanted to oust J. Edgar Hoover, who had been FBI director since 1935. This came after years of criticism from liberals and others over Hoover’s harassment of civil rights leaders and other activists — among other things.

Johnson apparently wanted to keep things quiet until he could name a successor, which would make it virtually impossible for Hoover to stay.

Ben Bradlee, later the longtime executive editor of The Washington Post but then at Newsweek, broke a story in November 1964 that Johnson was looking for replacements for Hoover. The story was said to derail the effort, causing Hoover to dig in and forcing Johnson to keep him on. Hoover ran the bureau until his death — eight years later.

(See also: Nixon, R.M.: “I am not a quitter.”)

In Holder’s case, we had written before the 2012 election that there had been talk that he might be leaving soon after the inauguration (assuming President Obama won), or perhaps more likely in the summer or in the fall of 2013.

Holder didn’t want to leave last winter, we had heard, because some might think Hill GOP critics — especially Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) — had driven him out.

While we had heard that Holder’s wife wanted him to move on, it was said that Obama wanted him to stick around and Holder himself was undecided.

At the time — and more recently as well — Holder’s associates said he really wanted to stay until the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which would be July 2014.

If the criticism mounts, that might be a stretch.

Back to the public sector

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has tapped highly regarded environmentalist Kevin Knobloch, most recently president of the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, to be his chief of staff.

Knobloch had also been the organization’s legislative director for arms control and national security and had worked on the Hill in the ’80s as legislative director for then-Sen. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) and legislative assistant and press secretary for then-Rep. Ted Weiss (D-N.Y.).

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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